No matter what scriptures I showed James, no matter what words of encouragement I shared with him concerning God’s grace and forgiveness, he stayed locked in to a negative spiritual assessment of himself. He inappropriately applied Psalm 51:3 to himself, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me”. When he saw God in his mind’s eye he saw the Almighty judge looking down on him with total disappointment. James had a self-condemning spirit as he headed toward spiritual self-destruction! Satan was doing a number on him with his lies.
What should we do when we have a hypersensitive conscience that hangs onto every little negative thing and at the same time dismisses God’s grace that biblically washes away our sins as we walk (imperfectly) by faith? The negative opinion causes doubt of our forgiveness and our salvation.
The answer is to stop judging ourselves and start seeing ourselves the way God sees us. The apostle John writes, “In whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (I John 3:20-21). “Heart” in this text refers to our minds – how we think of ourselves. And if God sees us as His beautiful children then we need to believe God rather than our faulty hypersensitivity of our imperfections. Spurgeon aptly said about I John 3:20-21, “Sometimes our heart condemns us, but, in doing so, it gives a wrong verdict, and then we have the satisfaction of being able to take the case into a higher court, from God, who is greater than our heart and knows all things”. There is an old song entitled Praise the Lord with one stanza saying, “Now Satan is a liar, and he wants to make us think, that we are paupers, when he knows we are children of the king”.
If you look at the reflection of your face on the calm waters of baptism (figuratively speaking) do you see someone forgiven of the past and one who continues to be forgiven as you walk in the light; or, do you see someone who is spiritually ugly with stains and sins? The most important question to answer is how does God see you. Scripture teaches us that God sees us as beautiful, sacred saints who belong to Him as His precious children.
Read Luke 7:36-50 and then listen to Beautiful by MercyMe.
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”